Opinion

Liberal Moms Not Happy That Scott Pruitt Vows To Clean Up Radioactive Landfill

For 25 years, the West Lake Landfill located in Bridgetown, Missouri has been on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund priority list — to cleanup nuclear waste illegally dumped there in 1973.  EPA Director Scott Pruitt vowed “to get things done at West Lake.”

Recently, Pruitt declared that companies that own Superfund sites like West Lake “are going to be held accountable.”

“They’re going to get these areas cleaned up, or they are going to be sued by this agency,” Pruitt added.

The companies that own the sites, not by taxpayer money, will fund the cleanup costs. This should be welcome news to Just Moms STL, a group of activists who have been literally yelling since 2013, for the EPA to clean up the site.

“Our Mission Is To Bring Awareness To The Radioactive Material That Is Interspersed Throughout The St. Louis Metropolitan Area, And Areas That Have Been Deeply Affected By These Materials,” notes Just Moms on its website.

But Dawn Chapman, who co-founded Just Moms with Karen Nikel, told The Washington Post that Pruitt’s promise to finally cleanup the West Lake Landfill isn’t enough.

“It’s got to be done the right way. There’s no Harry Potter wand here.”

The mother of three added: “Why our site? Why now? Can he keep those promises?”

President Barack Obama’s administration didn’t do anything to clean up of the West Lake Landfill. For a mom who claims, “the nuclear waste dump has filled her days and nights with worry,” Chapman should be relieved that Pruitt has pledged to clean it up.

‘Just Moms’ should be called ‘Just Unions,’ because it may very well be a front group for the Teamsters — to transfer the cleanup from Republic Services, which happens to be the owner of West Lake Landfill — to government union jobs.

How has a group of moms become a potent lobbying force on the state and federal level? Why would a group of moms care who cleans up the West Lake Landfill?

The group hosted town hall meetings, amassed 18,000 members to its Facebook page, and lobbied members of Congress. It has been described as “a surprisingly powerful force.” The evidence suggests that ‘Just Moms’ may be controlled, bought, and directed by a sophisticated lobbying group otherwise known as the Teamsters Union…whose members, conveniently, stand to gain a lot.

The Teamsters Union mentions ‘Just Moms’ in numerous press releases and other communications materials on its website.  Moreover, the Teamsters Union has hosted press conferences and educational events with ‘Just Moms.’

In the 1970s, environmental groups raised health concerns about industrial waste sites, and as a result, in 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA); which came be known as the “Superfund,” and the sites flagged for clean up were called ‘Superfund Sites.’

“EPA’s Superfund program is responsible for cleaning up some of the nation’s most contaminated land and responding to environmental emergencies, oil spills and natural disasters,” notes the agency’s website.

The EPA created a National Priorities List to speed up clean up of sites. The West Lake Landfill has been on that list for 25 years. As in this case, it can take a quarter of a century for a site on the list to get analyzed, reviewed, and readied for cleaned up.

Numerous studies conducted by the EPA have concluded the West Lake Landfill is safe.

In 2015, the EPA concluded:

The available scientific data indicate that people living near and working outside the boundary of the West Lake Landfill are not currently being exposed to contaminants from West Lake Landfill that are above a level of concern.

Nearly 43 years ago, nuclear waste was dumped on the landfill. But while ‘Just Moms’ and the Teamsters Union howl the landfill is dangerous, experts say their claims are “overblown and misplaced.” The International Commission on Radiological Protection concluded that ingesting over an ounce of contaminated soil from the West Lake would deliver the same radiation as an entire body CT Scan.

Since 2013 when ‘Just Moms’ was founded, the Teamsters have been known to go bonkers over the landfill. But rather than allowing the cleanup to move forward as planned, the Teamsters joined ‘Just Moms,’ demanding the cleanup be transferred to the Army Corp of Engineers — which would result in a huge delay.

If the Army Corps of Engineers were to do the work, it would cost taxpayers $400 million and create lots of higher-wage public sector union worker jobs. About 20% of the 1.4 million Teamsters workers in America are employed by the federal government.

If Republic Services cleans up the landfill, the cost would be about $50 million, and the work could begin immediately — at no cost to taxpayers. “It’s not a matter of money,” as Pruitt said.  And he’s right. The Superfund budget is bursting with cleanup money. It literally receives $1billion a year in funding.

Maybe the histrionics ‘Just Moms’ and the Teamsters are raising over the West Lake Landfill cleanup is more about politics than health concerns.  And maybe ‘Just Moms’ isn’t just moms.